Read the lawsuit here.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More then a dozen Kanawha Valley residents filed suit Tuesday afternoon to try to stop Bayer CropScience from restarting the methyl isocyanate unit at its Institute plant until new government safety reviews are completed.
The suit was filed just before the close of business at U.S. District Court in Charleston by local lawyer William V. DePaulo on behalf of 16 residents.
Among other things, the suit asks for a court order to block Bayer from resuming production of MIC until comprehensive plant inspections are conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The Institute plant's stockpile of MIC -- for years the plant stored a quarter-million pounds of the chemical on site -- has been a focus of concern for many valley residents since December 1984, when a leak of the chemical killed thousands of people near a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India.
Bayer is in the process of restarting the MIC unit after a significant modification project, but plans to operate it for only about 18 months before it stops making, using or storing the chemical at its Institute plant.
The suit accuses Bayer of "chronically reckless operation" of the plant and "admitted dishonesty in public communications" with residents of the Kanawha Valley, and says the company can't be trusted to restart the MIC unit.
"The risks associated with restarting the Bayer MIC facility far outweigh any social benefit, particularly the manufacture of no more than 18 months of one pesticide historically produced at the Bayer facility," the suit says.
Tom Dover, a spokesman for Bayer, said the company is "aware of the lawsuit and will need to review it before providing a full response.
"However, we are fully dedicated to a safe startup or our operations and remain confident that we will meet our own high expectations, as well as those of our neighbors and community," Dover said.